Dining out with a baby can be a pretty stressful event! There’s a lot of extra things you need to pack, as well as the worry they will go into a full-blown meltdown in the restaurant, forcing you to leave. It can be daunting and stressful. However, the good news is, there are ways to ensure you have a calm and enjoyable time.
Here, you’ll discover 10 top tips to ensure a stress-free experience when dining out with baby.
1. Always Choose Child-Friendly Restaurants
When deciding where to go, you’re going to want to ensure you’re choosing a child-friendly restaurant. This doesn’t mean the establishment needs to be centered around kids, but it does mean they should at least have young children in mind.
Do your research and see what family-friendly facilities the restaurant has. Will there be changing tables in the bathroom? Do they have high chairs for baby? These simple things will make a huge difference to your dining out experience. You’ll also want to look out for reviews from other parents to see what type of experience you’re likely to have. Child-friendly restaurants are also more likely to be understanding if your baby does begin to cry. So, save the fancy, elegant dining experience for when you have a babysitter.
2. Make A Reservation
Once you’ve found a baby-friendly restaurant, it’s a good idea to book a reservation. That way, you know 100% there will be a table ready for you when you arrive. If you were to simply turn up without booking, you could end up waiting for a table and then waiting again to get served. The longer you’re waiting, the fussier baby is likely to become.
Reservations can eliminate a lot of potential stress from your dining experience, so this is something you’re going to want to start doing every time you eat out with baby.
3. Go During Off-Peak Times
If you really want a stress-free dining experience with baby, it’s best to go out during off-peak times. Lunch time and evenings tend to be the busiest times for restaurants. So, consider booking mid-afternoon.
Of course, busy periods will differ depending upon the restaurant. So, you’ll definitely want to research the particular restaurant you’re hoping to head to, in order to see which times they tend to be busiest.
4. Take A Couple Of Toys
Distraction is often the best tool you can use to prevent baby meltdowns. Remember, your little one doesn’t have a very big attention span. Therefore, it’s highly likely they’re going to get fussy at some point. Toys can help you to distract their attention, potentially preventing a meltdown altogether.
You don’t need to take a huge selection of toys, just 1-3 toys will do. Aim to take at least their favorite toy and a book. You’ll also want to make sure the toys you do take, aren’t overly noisy.
5. Be Sure To Feed Baby First
If your baby is due a feed, make sure you do it before ordering food for yourself. That way, there’s a chance they may actually fall asleep while you enjoy your meal. If baby is eating solid foods, take some snacks with you just in case the food order takes longer than expected.
6. Ensure You Have A Well-Stocked Diaper Bag
The last thing you need when you’re sitting down to eat with baby in toe, is to discover you’ve left your essentials at home. Always ensure you’ve got a well-stocked diaper bag with you. This should include extra diapers, baby wipes, a change of clothing for baby and extra milk if you’re bottle feeding.
Even if you think you won’t need something, it’s better to pack it just in case. After all, it’s better to be over-prepared than underprepared!
7. Don’t Stay Out Too Long
Before baby came along, you likely enjoyed your meals out. You could leisurely sit down for an hour or two, enjoying the different surroundings. However, dining out with baby is a very different experience.
The longer you’re out at the restaurant, the more likely it is that baby will become fussy. So, you’ll want to make sure you don’t stay out too long. Head out to the restaurant as close to your booking time as possible and look out for signs your baby has had enough while you’re there.
8. Check The Restaurant Has Stroller Space
This may sound like an unnecessary tip, but even if you’ve checked a restaurant is child-friendly, it doesn’t mean there will automatically be enough space to park up a stroller. Therefore, you’ll want to go into the restaurant before booking, just to see how much space is available between the tables.
So why does stroller space matter? Well, imagine you turn up at the restaurant and your baby is fast asleep in their stroller. Rather than wake them up, the easiest and less stressful option would be to leave them sleeping in the stroller while you order and eat your meal. If there isn’t enough space, you obviously won’t have the option to leave baby there. This would most likely result in your little one having an epic meltdown when they’re woken up!
9. Take Snacks
If your baby is weaning onto solid foods, you’ll want to take plenty of snacks with you. There could be a long wait for food, even if you do order baby’s food first. They also may finish eating before you do. So, it’s good to have a selection of healthy snacks they can enjoy while you finish up your meal.
10. Take Care Of The Bill Quickly
You’ve done it, you’ve gotten through an entire meal. Now, pay the bill! Ideally, you’ll want to ask for the bill before you’ve even finished eating your meal. Some restaurants can be notoriously slow for bringing the bill, so asking to settle it as soon as possible is a good idea.
The last thing you want to do when you’ve enjoyed a nice meal out with baby, is hang around to make payment. So, take care of the bill quickly and head straight home!
Overall, eating out with baby can be stressful, but the tips above can help to make it a more enjoyable experience. Above all else, don’t forget to actually enjoy your meal out. Even if baby does cry, if you’ve gone to a family friendly restaurant, it really won’t matter. Babies cry, and most people are understanding of this. So, don’t sweat it, try the above tips and relax!